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Meridian Energy announces electric car trial

Media Release
Embargoed until 1pm, Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Meridian Energy announces electric car trial

State-owned electricity company Meridian Energy has announced it will conduct a small-scale trial of electric cars early next year.

Meridian chief executive Keith Turner says the company has been closely watching overseas developments in electric vehicles, and is convinced that the technology is about to reach a tipping point.

“Advances in motor and control technology, and especially battery technology, mean that all-electric cars will be appearing in the market in the not too distant future.”

Meridian does not intend to get into selling cars, Dr Turner told a Wellington news conference today, but it wants to investigate how electric cars perform in New Zealand conditions, with a view to convincing the auto industry to look at this country as a priority market.

“The transport sector is, of course, one of the biggest users of energy in New Zealand and one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases,” said Dr Turner, indicating electric cars could significantly reduce our impact on the environment.

“The prize in making the move to electric vehicles comes when you recharge them with renewable electricity. Meridian will be able to demonstrate renewable, zero-emission, certified carbon neutral mobility,” added Dr Turner.

But the real prize, says Dr Turner, is New Zealanders driving electric vehicles charged up with the plentiful wind and water resources of our own country – “that prize is worth pursuing.”

“There is no point in somebody feeling good about driving round town in an electric vehicle if the electricity they’re using has come from a coal-burning plant. All they’ve done is shifted the emissions from their tail pipe to a smoke-stack over somebody else’s town,” he added.

In the last few years there have been developments and successes seen in the use of hybrid cars, and plug-in hybrids are now available overseas. All-electric cars are the next step.

Meridian has three goals in conducting next year’s trial:
1. To test how electric cars perform in New Zealand conditions
2. To find out what New Zealanders think about electric cars
3. To encourage the auto industry to look more closely at opportunities in New Zealand.

Dr Turner thinks New Zealand is an ideal environment to test new innovations, because of the nation’s pioneering attitude to new technologies and the benefit of the relatively small test market.


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